PHAC: multi-week intense Omicron surge expected
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to monitor COVID-19 epidemiological indicators to quickly detect, understand and communicate emerging issues of concern.
Today’s updated longer-range forecast suggests that a continued large surge of rapidly accelerating Omicron cases is forecasted for Canada. Importantly, the latest forecasts show that even with a lower risk of hospitalization for Omicron compared to Delta, the number of new daily hospital admissions could still exceed previous historical peaks due to the sheer volume of cases that could occur.
With several weeks of very intense activity expected to come, these updated modelling forecasts underscore the importance of doing our best now to help limit the size of the Omicron surge in order to maintain the health system and critical functions of society.
Omicron disease activity has now eclipsed all previous waves of the pandemic and is trending far above daily counts for severe outcomes, nationally. During the latest 7 day period (Jan 6-12), an average of 37,530 new cases were reported daily across Canada. While this is a 10% decrease compared to the week prior, this could in part be attributed to changes in testing policies across Canada that can underestimate the true number of infections.
Ontario launches virtual 2022 Budget Consultations
Today, Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy announced the launch of 2022 Budget consultations and encouraged Ontarians to share their ideas.
People and organizations are welcome to share their ideas via an online survey, emailed or mailed submissions to the Ministry of Finance, or through a series of virtual consultations across the province that begin Monday, January 17.
Visit Ontario.ca/budgetconsultations to learn how to submit your ideas by email, mail, or by filling out a survey. The 2022 Budget consultations will close on February 11, 2022.
Niagara Health issues reminder: no visitors permitted
Niagara Health implemented temporary restrictions on Dec. 28, 2021. Visitors are not permitted at this time. Certain exceptions are permitted.
Bank of Canada finds low-carbon transition scenarios offer “important risks” to some economic sectors
The Bank of Canada and Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) today released the results of a pilot project on climate scenario analysis.
Together with six Canadian financial institutions, the Bank and OSFI developed scenarios that will help the financial sector identify, measure and disclose climate-related risks. These scenarios were not intended to be forecasts or predictions. Rather, they were specifically designed to capture a range of potential outcomes and illustrate the kinds of stresses on the financial system and economy that could occur as the world transitions to a low-carbon future.
All scenarios showed that this transition will entail important risks for some economic sectors. Mispricing of transition risks could expose financial institutions and investors to sudden and large losses. It could also delay investments needed to help mitigate the impact of climate change.
The scenarios highlighted that meeting climate targets will lead to significant structural changes for the Canadian and global economies, and that this transition will be more challenging in countries like Canada that have large carbon-intensive sectors.
Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia announce 25% cut in child care fees; still no child care announcement for Ontario
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, virtually joined the Premier of Nova Scotia, Tim Houston, today to announce that child care fees for families in Nova Scotia will be reduced by 25 per cent on average, saving them on average $200 per month. The fee decrease will begin as of April 1, 2022, and be retroactive to January 1, 2022. This will apply to parents with children up to six years old in regulated child care spaces that are part of the Canada‑wide early learning and child care system. Today’s announcement is an initial step in reducing child care fees for Nova Scotian families by 50 per cent by the end of 2022, and achieving an average of $10‑a‑day care by 2025-26.
To date, the Government of Canada has reached early learning and child care agreements with the governments of British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Yukon, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, New Brunswick, and the Northwest Territories. The governments of Canada and Quebec also reached an asymmetric agreement to strengthen the early learning and child care system in the province.
Ontario has still not reached an agreement with the Government of Canada for affordable child care.
The surge of Omicron cases across Canada is putting employers in a double bind as they struggle to keep businesses afloat with staff away sick, while also keeping existing employees safe and happy amid the so-called great resignation trend.
According to Statistics Canada, the number of job vacancies across all sectors reached an all-time high in the third quarter of 2021, up over 62 per cent from a year earlier. And that’s leaving employers scrambling to fill critical jobs and giving job seekers the upper hand amid a war for talent.
“I’m making placements without resumes now,” said head hunter Steven Cardwell of Steven Cardwell Recruitment, a nation-wide search firm. He’s currently looking to fill over 30 job openings for his clients in the banking, construction, and engineering sectors.
Pre-COVID, a project manager role in construction would require the candidate to be a civil engineer with three to four years of experience, according to Cardwell. “Now you don’t need that,” he said in a phone interview. “Clients are taking people with no experience but have willpower. Anybody is trainable.”
On December 29th Britain recorded 246,215 cases of covid-19, a number more than three times higher than the previous peak, a year ago. If Britain’s level of immunity was the same as in the winter of 2020, when almost no one had been vaccinated, this number of cases would constitute a new order of disaster. Many thousands of people would be dying every day. But thanks to vaccination, they are not. The share who die after testing positive for covid-19 is now roughly a twentieth of what it was last winter.
It is against this backdrop that the government is considering when to stop providing free lateral-flow tests to the public, a policy which has cost more than £6bn ($8.2bn) to date. Faced with public outrage it recently wobbled, but that the supply will soon end is not in doubt. The timing, however, is thorny. The NHS is stretched thin. Scientists and public-health experts worry that high caseloads will leave large numbers of people with the post-viral conditions collectively known as long covid, and that ending free tests would give the virus a boost.
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